I Believe in Staying Connected with my Heritage
For as much as I can remember of my12-year-old life, my family and I have gathered to listen to stories from our Hindu mythology. We get together every other Sunday with members of the Indian community in State College. This “Story Hour” is made to help children, and even adults, stay connected with Indian traditions and culture.
Families with large sitting areas rotate to provide the venue for our Sunday meetings. Other families bring lunch. We’ve all grown up with this experience. I’ve seen how it’s helped all of us develop bonds between family and friends.
We listen to the great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, narrated by our very dear Ashok Uncle. The stories are so long and so detailed that it takes 2 or 3 years to go through one epic. When Ashok Uncle finishes both epics, he goes back and starts them over again.
Ashok Uncle is a born storyteller. He tells the epics in a child-friendly manner. He even tells us about his own life experiences. He tells us about times he faced moral problems similar to the ones the heroes of the stories face.
In the Ramayana, the main character, a hero named Rama, and his brothers, all go to a gurukul (the word for school in Hindi) for their education. They have to stay there for many years, without the luxury of being able to visit their family, and so the other children and teachers at the gurukul become like their family.
Throughout this time, Rama and his brothers support and take care of each other. While telling this mythical story, Ashok Uncle also narrated a story from his own personal life in which his elder brother took care of him when he was young. By telling us these stories, teaches us the importance of family support.
Like Ashok Uncle, we all share our life stories. By sharing the details of our lives, members of the community teach each other about doing the right thing and being a good person.
When I grow up and have my own children, I will teach them about Hindu mythology, too. It’s a good way to encourage talking about our history and our present lives. I believe that listening to traditional stories regularly with the community has taught me to be a more virtuous, considerate and open-minded person. Also, hearing the stories from my family lets me relate to them more easily, and learn from them.
This time we’ve set aside to listen to our traditional stories is a very important part of my life. The bonds I’ve created by meeting with everyone on Sundays makes me consider everyone in the Indian community a part of my family.
I believe that family is one of the most important things in anyone’s life. Family has taught me everything I need to know, whether from traditional stories or life experiences. Family will always stay with me. And even when they can’t, their practices and beliefs will. I define myself through my family and my heritage. Because they make me who I am, I believe in my family.